American Psycho Couldn't Show Women's Faces During Sex
The NC-17 rating is a basically a death sentence for a mainstream film. In theory, it only means that theaters are encouraged (not even forced) to keep kids out, but in practice it means most theaters won't screen the film at all. Still, if any film was going to get that death sentence, American Psycho definitely deserved it, what with all the graphic ax murder. Initially, it did. But not for the violence. The MPAA instead drew the line at the scene wherein Patrick Bateman hires two sex workers for a little "Su-Su-Sussudio." It was a bit too sexy for the MPAA -- at least 1.5 times as sexy as two-way sex -- so the filmmakers had to cut the scene down to bring it down to R-level. This meant a lot of shots tightly zoomed in on Christian Bale while showing as little of the women as possible.
This also meant cutting out the women's faces, which irritated the director for artistic, if not moral, reasons. As scripted and filmed, the women were supposed to look really bored, while Bateman cheers himself on in the mirror. He thinks he's a sex god, but their faces tell us he's not. The filmmakers did their best with what they had, but if you've ever seen this GIF posted online unironically, you'll know not everyone got the message.
Lionsgate FilmsAlso, maybe keep a healthy distance from anyone who idolizes a psychotic narcissist.
It's worth noting that when the sex ends, there's a postscript sequence revealing that afterward, Bateman sliced up one of the women with scissors. The MPAA was fine with that.
The Wild Bunch Got An NC-17 25 Years After Being Released
When the 1969 western The Wild Bunch was released in theaters, it earned an R rating for cowboy-related violence that made Deadwood look like a Six Flags stunt show. In fact, it's so horrifying that when Warner Bros. attempted to theatrically release a director's cut with 10 extra minutes of footage for the film's 25-year anniversary, the MPAA upped the rating to an NC-17.
Warner Bros. PicturesWhich is hard to achieve without breaching the impossible taboo of admitting that sex exists.
What could those 10 minutes possibly depict? What exactly made them look at a movie that already had a triple-digit body count via multiple graphic shootouts, explosions, and slashings and go "That's it, you've gone too far"? Nothing, it turns out. Those 10 minutes of footage were in fact in the version of the movie the MPAA saw all those years ago, later cut for time reasons. The all-powerful body just watched the movie again and decided they'd made a terrible mistake the first time around.